New Zealand Law
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If you are unhappy with the representation from your lawyer, then you can make a complaint to the Lawyers Complaint Service about the advice that you received. If you think your son was wrongly convicted and should have pleaded not guilty, and the sentence he received was too heavy, then there is an option of an appeal.
If your son was unemployed he should qualify for legal aid and I don't understand why he was told that he didn't qualify. These are serious charges and he would be entitled to a lawyer under legal aid.
From your description there was at least some discussion about the charges in court, but if your son pleaded guilty to the charges then while it is possible to dispute the facts with a disputed fact hearing, only relevant issues can be raised. You have to drill down to the important issue of whether he did make the threat to kill, whether his driving was not good, and the insurance problems. Sometimes there can be errors or mistakes in the evidence, but this will not always provide a defence if the central parts of the prosecution are not in dispute. But it appears to me that he may not have had matters explained very well, and so by making a complaint to the Lawyers Complaint Service he may be able to get better understanding of the advice.
The Lawyers Complaint service is here http://www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-community/lawyers-complaints-service/how-to-make-a-complaint
He can contact the complaint service and complete the form to make a complaint, and they will get in touch with him and discuss the matter further